When a question is closed as duplicate, or unclear, or off-topic, and I have already posted an answer, should I delete my answer?
Fleshing out my above comments:
No, you shouldn't manually delete your answer on a closed question. Why not? Because question closure is not a finite state. The question could be:
- In dispute
- When the community is split on whether we accept the question. Take this recent relevant example (we seem to have about 1 a week at this stage).
- Edited in an attempt to have it reopened. An edit could be
- For clarification (if the question is closed as 'Unclear').
- To remove 'Off-Topic' statements and focus down on something we can answer.
- To narrow the scope so it isn't 'Too Broad'.
Questions are first placed 'On Hold', with any edit automatically bumping the question into the 'Reopen' review queue.
If a question stays closed for a long while it will eventually be deleted, with your answer along with it anyway. Except for duplicates. Duplicates are special snowflakes: they aren't deleted; instead they are kept around as 'signposts' leading to the more canonical question. In the case of a duplicate, your answer will either:
- Remain on the duplicate question, hopefully helping anyone that stumbles across it
- Be merged over to the existing canonical question, (with this being a moderator-level privilege).
If instead you do delete your answer:
- You will lose any rep gained (or lost for that matter)
- Note that once questions and answers reach a certain age, deletion will not remove the rep effects they earned you.
- Your answer will not be merged onto a canonical question should the situation arise.
- It most likely counts as a mark towards an answer suspension*.
- Not a real worry unless you're deleting a lot of answers, but it's worth noting anyway.
* Take note: it's better to have 3 answers with negative scores then 3 deleted answers! 1 answer upvote negates 5 downvotes worth of lost rep, so try and improve your answers before resorting to deleting them!